Let the teabagging commence...
Like thousands of others, I've been totally immersed in the Halo 3 multiplayer beta over the last couple of days. I've been involved in dozens of beta tests and played many demos over the years, but this comprehensive first look at the third game in the Halo series is a step above any 'first look' I’ve experienced before. The game is already as solid as a rock performance wise, with the three maps on offer giving you a real flavour of the diverse settings that we can look forward to in the full game and Bungie has given us a decent number of great game-play modes to test out, 4 months prior to the full release of Halo 3 on September 26th. In addition, the feature called 'Saved Films' is fully operational and allows you to share your battles with fellow gamers, and the True Skill ranking system and the in-depth stats are already playing their part in creating a highly competitive environment.
The core game-play elements that made Halo 2's multiplayer so addictive haven’t changed in Halo 3. Halo is still an intoxicating mixture of fast paced, explosive action on foot and in vehicles, coupled with a tactical element, especially in game modes such as Capture the Flag or Territories, but it's still generally a case of rushing off to pick up your favourite weapon, grabbing a handful of grenades, or hopping onto your favourite vehicle and then steaming up the battlefield or heading off to find your preferred spot on the map before ambushing your opponents with a mixture of heady firepower and grenades.
The most notable change to the control system is that you now need to pick up weapons, re-load, jump on vehicles and activate switches with your right bumper rather than the X button, which is now used to activate special equipment. Despite it feeling a bit awkward at first, it seems like a logical change as your index finger does naturally hover over the bumper. Sure enough, after half and hour or so of game-play, it's an instinctive reaction when you pick up the flag on CTF or grab hold of a weapon.
Halo 3 multiplayer feels almost identical to the last game in the series, but the game-play has been enhanced by the presence of a number of new weapon types, some enhancements to existing weapons and a number of brand new special items.